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Crusaders blunt Darts with fiery display

Win over rivals keeps play-off race wide open

Malcolm Howe

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Malcolm Howe

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Crusaders blunt Darts with fiery display

Louis Soares in to open the scoring as Dartford's Tom Winter sticks out a boot

Hungerford Town 2 Dartford 0

REGARDLESS of Poole’s ground problems, Hungerford are still trying to get into the Vanarama National League South play-off places on merit as they showed when mauling fourth-placed Dartford in front of a season’s-best crowd at Bulpit Lane on Friday.

Crusaders were full value for their win, that leaves them only two points behind Poole, who are appealing against a league decision to bar them from the play-offs fr having insufficient seats at their ground.

Hungerford sympathise with their problem, but are trying to make it an irrelevant, as they showed with a complete display that made the Kent side look very ordinary. “Everybody knew their jobs and knew what it meant today,” said manager Bobby Wilkinson.

“I still believe that if you keep working hard on and off the pitch, you will get your rewards, and I’m very, very proud of what we did today.

“For the last five weeks, we’ve been running on empty but we gave them a quiet week and look how they responded.”

Hungerford were stll without hamstring victim Nat Jarvis and midfielder Ian Herring was also out with a calf strain, but Stefan Brown returned from his own injury absence to score one of the goals, while Scott Rees stepped into Herring’s shoes and produced a man of the match display.

The opening 45 minutes produced few real chances, but was a nip and tuck affair with Hungerford looking but overawed by their task.

And they started the second half in explosive fashion by scoring after only 29 seconds when Rees won a midfield battle and Brown played the ball on for Warren Bentley to hook past advancing goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim before Louis Soares won the race to make sure with defender Tom Winter maybe getting the final touch.

They got their second in the 70th minute when Rees again won possession and Soares got away down the left before driving in a cross that Brown met perfectly at the near post.

The expected Dartford onslaught never materialised as Hungerford kept shape, substance and threat to keep the shake-up wobbling for a time yet.

They now go to Hemel Hempstead on Monday afternoon with Jarvis hoping to be fit to join the battle against a side that took two points off Poole on Friday.

Hungerfoird Town: Ward; Tyler, Bordman Day, Jones; Clark, Rees, Williams, Soares; Brown, Bentley. Subs: Goodger, O’Brien, Meechan, Thomas, Lynch.

Dartford: Ibrahim; Harris, Vint, Brown, Winter; Noble, Bonner, Bradbrook, Murphy; Ofori-Aheampong, Pavey, Murphy. Subs: Hayes, Wanadio, Pugh, Seixas, Coxall.

Referee: Alan Dale (Ipswich). Attendance: 522.

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